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CAAPID Personal Statement Oral Cancer in India

Updated: Feb 1

Dentistry presented the perfect blend of the stimulation of academics with the satisfaction of human interaction; nowhere was this satisfaction more prominent than in oral medicine and radiology. I am an Indian dentist who hopes to be accepted for one of the limited spaces in your competitive DDS Program not only based on my experience in dentistry but also on the great passion that I have for oral health care education, especially concerning the prevention of oral cancer in my home country, India.

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Raising Oral Cancer Awareness

For many years now, I have watched with deep dismay how a considerable proportion of the many millions of Indians that live on less than a dollar a day spend much of their income on tobacco products, chewing, smoking, or both. Most of these people eat only once a day to have enough money to buy tobacco. Eventually this leads to a miserable death from oral cancer for many. It is not surprising that oral cancer takes a staggering toll due to a lack of awareness or concern for the effects of tobacco use, combined with a lack of resources for health care. The problem is aggravated further by the fact that, within a few years, India is poised to pass China as the world’s most populous nation, with the highest oral cancer rates worldwide.

My education in India was a sustained immersion experience in dentistry that lasted from September 2004 to May 2013, with the last three years spent earning my Masters's Degree (MDS) in Oral Medicine and Radiology. I learned about advanced modalities and radiographic techniques for the entire head and neck region, digital Orthopantomogram (OPG), CBCT, MRI, and radiotherapy for cancer patients. Posting in the Cancer Department of a government hospital, one of the biggest in Asia and a major Western regional center for cancer treatment and diagnosis in India, has been the highlight of my life.  I also volunteered in India, providing oral submucous fibrosis (OSMF) treatment for those patients who cannot open their mouths because of tobacco chewing.

Before moving to the USA, my professional duties with the Gujarat Cancer Research Institute as an Oral Diagnostician and Maxillofacial Radiologist included diagnosing pre-cancerous and cancerous lesions of oral structure. Always acutely conscious that patients do not usually show symptoms of oral cancer at the initial stage, I was keenly aware of the life-death nature of what I was doing. As soon as I graduated from my master's program in Oral Medicine and Radiology, I was busy doing biopsies of countless patients suspected of having oral cancer. After my residency, I enjoyed working as an Assistant professor teaching India’s dentist of tomorrow.

In addition to never failing to attend as many conferences as possible, I have published several articles and am devoted to lifelong learning, research, and publication. Most of my research concerns salivary glucose levels in Diabetic Patients. I look forward to further research, improving our unique abilities to care for diabetic patients.

I have been engaged as a volunteer for several months with "Garden State Episcopal Community Development Corporation,” helping homeless people. I work in the food pantry, preparing and serving breakfast and lunch. I am also becoming involved in case management and finding government grants to help these people. I volunteered at the 9/11 Mega Blood Drive the American Red Cross organized.  Within a few days of my arrival in the USA, I was already shadowing as a volunteer at the dental clinics of Dr. XXXX and Dr. XXXX in Jersey City, where I remain until today, learning as much as possible from these gracious doctors. They have taken me under their wing.

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Oral Public Health Campaigns

I also want to devote as much time as possible here in America to oral health public education and awareness campaigns, especially those geared toward helping the underserved. I find myself especially drawn to homeless people and their plight, both in India and the USA, and I hope to spend a great deal of my time and energy in this area.

I thank you for considering my application to your competitive program.

CAAPID Personal Statement Oral Cancer in India

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